A lot of them are just like me: college graduates who have had professional careers, and then given issues in the job market and/or health issues, wind up in this state.
If at all possible, never let yourself become completely jobless.
My last job was at a dollar store where practically all of our white customers came from nearby homeless shelters. My impression at the time was that about half the homeless have jobs; what they don’t have is a job that enables one to have a place of one’s own.
40 hours per week at $7.25 per hour spells a weekly paycheck of $290 before taxes. Good luck finding any housing for $290/month. And that worker will probably qualify for food stamps. As to whether this is or should be what America wants for the minimum wage and food stamps, I have no opinion. It is what is. Even under socialism, there will be people who will not show up at any appointed place or time, and who will not follow anyone’s directions, even if food and shelter are at stake.
On the other hand, I have heard guys, who from their appearance I never would have expected to talk this way, talk about how good it is to be working, to stay busy with positive things, how it makes you feel better about yourself. And the guys on the crews the temp agency sends out normally show a good work ethic, taking initiatives, getting the job done.
About a third of the homeless have severe mental illness, and may or may not be taking their medications.
5 to 10 percent of the men who stay at night at the same mission I do, are there because of marital problems. The simplest immediate solution, for everyone’s peace of mind, is for the man to take refuge in a shelter for a few days — or months — until the partners patch things up.
About 25% of the homeless are on the street (not in shelters), and the overwhelming majority of them ARE on the street effectively by choice. Either they are drug addicts who would rather stay drunk or high than sleep indoors (a real trade-off); or they have a diseased concept of freedom, such that they will not follow anyone’s rules and have been barred out of every shelter in town.
Perhaps 25% are common criminals who are taking a break from jail. That’s where they came from and where they’ll soon enough return.
Generalizations don’t spell the situation of any given individual. I can only speak of single adult men and, to some extent, women. I have no contact with homeless families or children.
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